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1957 · members Republic of Ireland members · 1965
Irish general election, 1961
143 of 144 seats in Dáil Éireann
4 October 1961
First party Second party Third party

Leader Seán Lemass James Dillon Brendan Corish
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour Party
Leader since 1959 1959 1960
Leader's seat Dublin South Central Monaghan Wexford
Last election 78 seats, 48.3% 40 seats, 26.6% 11 seats, 9.1%
Seats won 70 47 15
Seat change –8 +7 +4
Percentage 43.8% 32.0% 11.7%
Swing –4.5% +5.4% +2.6%
Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party

Leader Joseph Blowick Noel Browne Seán MacBride
Party Clann na Talmhan National Progressive Democrats Clann na Poblachta
Leader since 1944 1958 1946
Leader's seat Mayo South Dublin South East N/A
Last election 3 seats, 2.4% N/A 1 seat, 1.7%
Seats won 2 2 1
Seat change –1 +2 ±0
Percentage 1.5% 1.0% 1.1%
Swing –0.9% +1.0% –0.6%

Previous Taoiseach
Seán Lemass
Fianna Fáil

Subsequent Taoiseach
Seán Lemass
Fianna Fáil

The Irish general election of 1961 was held on 4 October 1961, just over three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 8 September. The newly elected members of the 17th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 11 October when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

The general election took place in 38 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 144 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann which had been reduced in size by three seats from the previous election.



The general election of 1961 saw the three main parties being led by three new leaders. Seán Lemass had taken charge of Fianna Fáil in 1959. It was also the first time Fianna Fáil faced a general election campaign without Éamon de Valera. James Dillon took over at Fine Gael in 1959 also, while the Labour Party was now under the leadership of Brendan Corish.

While the election was caused by the "crisis" surrounding Ireland's application for membership of the European Economic Community and various other international affairs, little attention was paid to these matters during the campaign. While the 1961 general election has become known as the dullest campaign on record, with the most important issue being the teaching of the Irish language in schools. Fianna Fáil were fighting the election on their record in government and a reforming theme, Fine Gael presented itself as the party of free enterprise. The Labour Party campaigned strongly against the "conservative" Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties. It also favoured major expansion in the public sector. It was the first and only general election for the new National Progressive Democrats party led by Noel Browne.


17th Irish general election – 4 October 1961[1][2]
Party Leader Seats ±  % of seats First Pref votes  % FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Seán Lemass 70 –8 48.6 43.8 –4.5
Fine Gael James Dillon 47 +7 32.6 32.0 +5.4
Labour Party Brendan Corish 15 +4 10.4 11.7 +2.6
Clann na Talmhan Joseph Blowick 2 –1 1.4 1.5 –0.9
National Progressive Democrats Noel Browne 2 +2 1.4 1.0 +1.0
Clann na Poblachta Seán MacBride[3] 1 ±0 0.7 1.1 –0.6
Sinn Féin Paddy McLogan 0 –4 0 3.1 –2.3
Independent N/A 6 –3 4.2
Ceann Comhairle N/A 1 N/A 0.7 N/A N/A N/A
Total 144 –3 100 100
  • Fianna Fáil minority government formed.

The opposition parties gained ground on Fianna Fáil, while Sinn Féin failed to defend the four seats it had won in the previous election.

First time TDs

Re-elected TDs


Outgoing TDs

See also


  1. ^ "17th Dáil 1961 General Election". Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  3. ^ After the election, while Seán MacBride was leader of Clann na Poblachta, Joseph Barron became leader and the sole member of the parliamentary party.


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